On the one-year anniversary of the deadly assault in Washington D.C., when a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in a misguided attempt to overturn the election he lost, President Joe Biden placed blame on Trump for the violence of that day.
"For the first time in our history a president had not just lost the election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol," Biden said. "But they failed."
Biden delivered his remarks Thursday morning from Statuary Hall in the Capitol building, the same room that rioters ran through on their way to the House chamber on January 6, 2021.
"We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie," Biden said. "Here is the truth: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He's done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country's interests, than America's interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy, or our constitution. He can't accept he lost."
Biden said Trump spent months planting the seed in the minds of his supporters that the election was flawed.
"It wasn't based on any facts. He was just looking for an excuse, a pretext to cover for the truth. He's not just a former president, he's a defeated former president. Defeated by a margin of over seven million of your votes," Biden said. "There is simply zero proof the election results were inaccurate."
Biden asked Americans to close their eyes and recall what they saw on January 6 as he described the violence faced by law enforcement, rioters threatening the life of the speaker of the House and erecting gallows to hang the vice president.
"What did we not see? We didn't see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in a private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House, watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives were at risk, the nation's capitol under siege," Biden said.
The president also criticized Trump for referring to the violent mob as the nation's true patriots.
"Is that what you thought when you looked at the mob ransacking the Capitol, destroying property, literally defecating in the hallways, rifling through the desks of senators and representatives, hunting down members of Congress," the president said. "Patriots? Not in my view."
"Those that stormed this Capitol and those that instigated and incited and those that called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America," Biden continued. "They didn't come here out of patriotism or principle. They came here in rage, not in service of America but rather in service of one man."
The president praised lawmakers for finishing their work to confirm the results of the 2020 election despite everything that took place on January 6. He called them the true patriots.
Trump had scheduled his own press conference in Mar-a-lago for Thursday, but later cancelled the event. He said he would address the January 6 anniversary at a previously scheduled rally in Arizona on January 15.
Several rioters have been arrested for their alleged involvement during the insurrection and a House select committee is investigating the event. The committee has interviewed more than 300 witnesses and initiated contempt-of-Congress charges against two of Trump's former top aides. It could conduct public hearings as early as this spring.
Biden described this moment as "a battle for the soul of America".
"We must decide what kind of nation we are going to be," Biden said. "Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm? Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people? Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shadow of lies? We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation. The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by it."